WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Department of Energy Tuesday announced new investments in Michigan that support American leadership and global competitiveness in manufacturing.
The Energy Department awarded $9 million to Dow Chemical, $3.7 million to Troy-based Delphi Corp. and nearly $2.7 million to General Motors to develop cutting-edge manufacturing processes that will save the companies money by reducing the energy needed to power their facilities.
The Michigan-based projects are part of a $54 million investment by the Energy Department — leveraging $17 million in cost sharing from the private sector — for 13 projects across the country to advance transformational technologies, materials and processes that can help American manufacturers dramatically increase the energy efficiency of their operations and reduce costs.
“By investing in breakthrough processes and technologies that can drastically reduce the amount of energy consumed during manufacturing, the Energy Department is supporting President Obama’s blueprint for an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, and skills for American workers,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “When it comes to clean energy, our motto should be: ‘Invented in America, made in America, and sold around the world.’ The projects announced today will improve the competitive position of U.S. industry and help Michigan’s manufacturers produce more while saving energy, saving money and protecting our air and water.”
Added Florian Schattenmann, research and development director at Dow Automotive Systems: “This project fits with Dow’s overall vision for energy efficiency — which we feel is an essential part of a comprehensive energy policy. Carbon fiber allows our customers to realize energy benefits in many markets from passenger cars to commercial vehicles to wind turbines. With the development of a potentially lower cost solution, the range of commercially accessible applications can be extensive.”
The Michigan projects selected for awards include a $9 million investment in Midland’s Dow Chemical Co. to create a low-cost carbon fiber production process that could potentially reduce the production cost of carbon fibers by 20 percent and reduce the total carbon dioxide emissions per unit of carbon fiber output by 50 percent. The process uses polyolefin in place of conventional polyacrylonitrile as the feedstock. Low-cost carbon fiber has widespread application in automobiles, wind turbines, and various other industrial applications.
General Motors will also receive a nearly $2.7 million investment to develop an integrated super-vacuum die casting process that is expected to achieve a 50 percent energy savings compared to the current process used to manufacture car doors. The reduced weight in the car doors will also result in serious fuel economy improvements and carbon emission savings.
GM will work with Meridian Lightweight Technologies and Ohio State University on the project.
Ford Motor Co. will also work on with Dow Chemical on the carbon fibers project as well as partner with the University of Utah to develop a new process for producing titanium components that could dramatically improve how materials are used in manufacturing vehicles and aircraft. These projects represent a major investment in the solutions that will transform energy-intensive manufacturing technologies and materials used by industry here in the U.S.
Delphi will develop a highly versatile, energy efficient method of micro-machining complex shapes with ultrafast laser technology.
This process will increase laser machining energy efficiency up to 25 percent over standard practices while eliminating secondary processes such as etching, deburring or surface cleaning.
Delphi is partnering with Raydiance, Inc. and Chicago-based Microlution, Inc. in the development of this new system. The project’s prototype platform will be developed and verified at Delphi’s Rochester plant.
A full list of project descriptions, including project partners, can be found at www.eere.energy.gov/pdfs/imi_project_descriptions.pdf